Monthly Archives: February 2017

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Hearts

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photo by Congerdesign

In so many different ways, February is considered heart month. The month opens with a burst of red on calendars and in stores as we celebrate the health of the human heart and that grand emotion of the human heart, love. We are encouraged to bestow flowers and candies upon our loved ones at the same time being admonished to take of one’s heart with a healthy diet and exercise. I sense the irony here. Heart health this month is especially focused on women’s hearts as denoted by the floating red dress symbol. It’s a month to see red.

If one is in the initial bloom of a love relationship, February and specifically Valentine’s Day is the day to show your lover what they mean to you. Typically this appears to be done by giving the aforementioned candy, cards and flowers but jewelry is a common gift as are marriage proposals, trips abroad and champagne dinners by candlelight.  As the blush of first love wears off, especially if one is in a very long term relationship, that bloom of ardor has cooled and more often than not, in lieu of gifts is the complaint that the holiday has just been created by card companies and jewelry stores for the profit that it brings. Nothing cools passion faster than that particular sentiment.

It is usually then that the other heart of February is focused on. Heart health is a serious issue and for women it can mask as another illness sometimes until it is too late to get help. As a woman, I know that there are times when I think that a certain pain is just in my imagination or maybe it’s a pulled muscle or maybe even just gas. Women often think they are just too busy or it really isn’t serious or they have other people to care for. All of that mental negotiation can temporarily soothe one’s concern until the heart actually stops because it really wasn’t gas after all.

When you think of it, the heart is a pretty amazing organ. Not only does it pump about 100,000 times per day which keeps the human body up and running, it skips a beat when one meets that special someone, it can freeze when one is in shock or fear and it can break when sorrow hits it. From the heart come sonnets and songs and it can actually go out to someone when feeling compassionate. It can also grow hard with hate or anger or be soft in the person considered a push over. One famous song even claimed that the heart would go on even after the person had stopped! Yes that heart is a busy little thing.

Because of all of that I wonder that as humans we take this relatively tiny organ for granted. It does so much for us and to us and yet we can forget about it for months at a time, at least until February rolls around again. We use it and abuse it to the point where I am astounded that it can handle all that it does. When we consider how essential it is to life itself one would think we would be more careful with it. But no. We eat our decadent food and drink. We stay up late and party. We hurt other people’s hearts by playing with them when we are not being honest. It is said that some of us have no heart but of course that could not be true.

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photo by Mariette de Villiers

I also believe we all have different hearts in our one heart. I have a daughter’s heart, and a sister’s heart. I have a wife’s heart and a mother’s heart and a friend’s heart. My heart changes a bit with each role I step into. They often overlap. Sometimes my heart is bursting and sometimes it feels as though it has shriveled up and hidden behind a rib somewhere. I can usually coax it out with music, a beat that finds a rhythm with the beat of my heart. a song I can sing at the top of my lungs until that heart fills itself in again. Sometimes I just have to take the pain that has scarred that hearty heart and move away from it until it stops hurting.

166738237We use the heart to describe so many things in our lives. We have heartbreak and heartthrobs. We have bleeding hearts and blackhearts and we can be faint of heart. Sometimes we need to get to the heart of the matter and sometimes two hearts are better than one. And so it seems fitting that this wonderful organ, this suppository of love and emotion vastly beyond its tiny size should have its own month of the year to wax poetic. There are definitely worse things we can glorify. Even for those cynics who refuse to buy flowers or cards, the heart will go on until it no longer can. The next step is just a heartbeat away.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – March

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gezi-1344963__340Women are on my mind these days. My mother, my daughter, my sisters. My friends. Men are on my mind as well. My brothers, my husband, my son. My friends. We are all in this together. In the past few weeks some life changing events have happened both personal and vastly public. I can see photos of masses of women and men gathering around the world to march for human rights. I can see a very personal funeral march to celebrate the end of a life well lived and well loved. I can see events that strike cold fear in my heart, that make me fear for my country, for my children. Another march whose end we cannot yet see.

We buried our Mom the day of the big march. She was 92. To even imagine reaching that age is something I can hardly fathom. She was beautiful to the end. That enigmatic smile that hooked my father so many years ago and convinced him to settle down and raise a family, barely changed with age. We are six from that union and eight more beyond that. To witness the influence of one life in this world is amazing. To witness the influence of millions of the same mind is overwhelming.

My daughter walked in that great march and dedicated that time to her grandmother. A young woman navigating a complex world remembering an old woman who must have felt the same at her age. She was moved by that immense energy, by that positive force of hearts joined for a single cause. A few days later, she had a scary encounter that shook her world and forced her to look again with fresh eyes. Life is constant learning as the world keeps turning.

My sisters. We marched in our own private world locked tightly arm in arm behind our mother’s casket. We are four, each born 5 years apart. We were celebrating our shared sisterhood sprung from one small woman. We turned to each other for comfort, finding common ground while acknowledging we have just as much uncommon ground. Marveling at how our lives can impact time and the world. As do the lives of those we have given birth to.

My brothers marched too. Bearing the weight of that small woman to her final resting place. Bearing the weight of her loss. Our sons are learning the true meaning of strength and honor and love as my mother’s sons have. My son is soon taking a wife. The weight and joy and responsibility of that union has been experienced by his parents and their parents before them.  My children have been witness to many of their parent’s lessons. Some of those lessons they welcome. Some they reject. Some have yet to be borne.peace-1465207__340

Women’s march. Men’s march. Wedding march. Funeral March. Music and soldiers and even ants march. But it is time that leads us forward. Time marches. It is the one march we can never stop and can never see where it will lead. We can only follow it the best that we can. We can march to our own drummer, to our own tune. We can march with someone and we can march against someone. But we can never stop that march of time. 92 and 62 and 32 and more. They are numbers on the scale of life as we go marching on.

Very soon I will be a mother in law. I will have a daughter in law. Another to welcome into my tribe of women, of men. Our lives will begin another march together as the family grows. Children are born and elders die and the world turns round again. This hate and fear we are feeling now will change with the march of time. Our only hope is to hold onto the truest and highest form of ourselves and to grow in that march called life.
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I am honored my mother was who she was and the lessons she made me learn about myself just by being herself. And I can turn around and see all of those ripples of her life and people now here that came from that one lovely smile to a young man newly home from a great war and ready to build a life with her. Time marches on even though she has laid down her head. She trusts that we will hold onto the love she has passed over to us. Rest well, Mom. We will carry on the march from here.